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Posts Tagged ‘clients’

Stardate March 1st 2555

 

 

I’ve been in the enviable position of doing not very much at all for the last 6 months.

 

Although trying to train two Bull Terriers is tougher than any advertising project.

 

But during that period I’ve also wasted an inordinate amount of time on social media – facebook, instagram, pinterest, of course the old favourite youtube etc.  More time, in fact, than anyone else in advertising.

 

And if you dispute that, then you ought to be fired for not doing your day job (interestingly, facebook is most active during working hours, weekends are dead because people have a life to live!)

 

It’s been for me a big social experiment because I’m fascinated (and dismayed) with the way the advertising industry is killing itself in its rush to embrace everything new and ditch everything that made it the great business it is.

 

Some companies are even hiring ‘digital guys’ to replace ‘traditional’ creatives.

 

What’s a Digital Guy or Gal?

 

Someone who understands the technology, the ones and zeros? That’s not me.

 

Or someone who simply understands how people USE the digital space? Well I certainly know quite a bit about that now!

 

And whilst agencies and some clients love the idea that people will be ‘having conversations’ about your brand, become ‘advocates’ or ‘brand ambassadors’ selling your brand for free, WAKE UP!

 

People aren’t so freaking sad they’re going to waste too much time ‘engaging’ with most brands out there. The majority of brands aren’t ‘loved’, they’re a necessity, and that’s ok.

 

Dave Dye nailed it recently when he said (I paraphrase) “people respect brands that understand the role they play in our life.”

 

Tell me your margarine is humanitarian and doing great for causes and I’ll say “fuck off, you’re saturated fat and I like you on my bread, end of story”. I don’t think I’m alone in that.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE these digital domains, they’re bloody addictive (which is why Pinterest has gone from 2 million users to around 12 million in just the last three months).

 

But here’s the thing:

 

THEY ARE BROADCAST MEDIA.

 

By and large, they’re used by individuals to advertise themselves, their lives, their loves and passions – “look at me”; “look at what my dog can do”; “check my new wheels/heels”; “this is me, with so and so”; “look where I am today” and so on…

 

There aren’t too many ‘conversations’ going on about the relative merits of your average everyday brand.

 

Facebook should be called ME-ME-ME-BOOK.

 

Nothing wrong with all that.

 

And people get ‘likes’ too (our bullies have got thousands on the dedicated sites, BUT WE’RE NOT SELLING ANYTHING).

 

And yes, Starbucks has 28.7 million ‘likes’ which by it’s own admission is partly down to a steady stream of promotions, special offers, coupons and discounts (although there were only 290 thousand ‘active’ last time I looked)

 

By the way, for your comparative reference, Texas Hold’em Poker has 35 million followers.

 

Point is, the Holy Grail of unpaid-for media doesn’t exist.

 

How can you say to a client, in all honesty (yeah I know that sounds like an oxymoron) that “this idea will go viral”?

 

You can’t.

 

And by ditching the classic broadcast media in favour of the ‘new, multi-million individual-channel broadcast media’, you’ll be taking the biggest gamble with your brand it’s possible to take.

 

Even BBH’s wonderful Yeo Valley work, which generated millions of youtube clicks, did so after a 9 million-plus tv exposure during the X-Factor finals. I suspect it would have struggled to generate anything like that amount without the massive tv-kickstart.

 

There’s no such thing as a free media.

 

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Stardate June 28th 2554*

Mind reading seems to be part of an account exec’s job description these days. So many of them seem know exactly what their clients want, and have an innate ability to double guess their reactions.

Except they don’t.

Most people have a hard time reading the minds of their partners, who they actually live with.

We learned this unpredictability in a rather dramatic way in the early days of dfgw, when we won Independent Television Commission as a client. The ITC were the official body to oversee (and vet) content on all commercial TV and TV advertising. ‘Censors’ in the old language.

The first thing they wanted us to promote was the ‘9pm watershed’, this being the time when more sensitive subject matter could be aired, on the assumption young kids weren’t watching.

So me and my partner Dave Waters came up with this idea of a young kid (8 or 9 yrs old) being seduced by a woman in her twenties, who was suggestively (!) undressing. We cut back and forth between the two, building up the tension. But the pay-off would be we pull out wide and see that it was clever editing and he was actually just watching her on telly. We naively thought it quite a provocative way to make the point.

The ITC were apoplectic. They were supposed to be seen as responsible. (The accompanying gag about them actually being responsible for the uproar if we ran it met with frozen smiles.)

They were too nice a bunch of people to actually say, “get the fuck out of our office and go and play on some railway tracks” but you could see that’s what their expressions said.

Undeterred, me and Dave argued with them for days that even the ITC needs to get noticed and remembered.

We’d have had more luck arguing with the electronic voice in their posh elevator.

Eventually we decided some drama queen behaviour was called for, so we, along with our MD and brilliant head suit Michael Finn, trudged around the corner to the ITC’s office, Dave carrying an A2 layout pad and some pens, me carrying a small typewriter (like I said this was early pre-laptop days, and we’d have looked even sillier storming in with a massive desktop computer), and Finn, like all the best suits, carrying nothing but an open mind.

They looked a little surprised, clearly not used to such prima donna antics inside their conservative establishment.

We sat down combatively across the table from them and said, right, we’re going to sort this out, here, now. Raised eyebrows all round but no one raised any objections, so we gave it one last shot, trying to write around their problems with the idea.

The outer brick walls of the building budged further. They were having none of it. The Boss said, “let me make it clear to you, we WILL NOT sanction any film that implies, infers, indicates, or any other ‘i’s for that matter, sex with a minor, even though it’s not.”

We’d reached a Mexican standoff (in Soho).

Then in a moment of pure anger and frustration, one of us said “well…what if we shot him then…?”

Complete silence as tumbleweeds rolled through the room (still in Soho).

The Boss sighed, shoulders sagged, and said “well, of course we can SHOOT him, that’s not a problem” as the rest of his side of the table came to life in agreement, wondering why we didn’t think of that in the first place.

So in front of them, I typed a script where the kid witnesses a brutal murder and then gets threatened and shot himself, Dave drew a quick storyboard and 30 minutes later we had a signed script to go into production. It also got into D&AD.

Who would’ve guessed that then?

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